Published on June 20th, 2010 | by Deejay Knight, Editor/Founder
Review: Red Dead Redemption
Release Date: May 18, 2010
Developer: Rockstar San Diego
Platform: Xbox 360 [Reviewed], PlayStation 3
Early on in Red Dead Redemption, you get a small taste of what the wild, wild west was all about. You take control of John Marston, a former outlaw, get exploited into taking out your former gang. It’s not an issue of money, though: they kidnap John’s wife and son with the threat of grave things to them if he doesn’t remove his former gang from power.
Needless to say, John isn’t too excited about this new quest, but for his family’s sake he gives it his all.
At it’s core, Red Dead gives us a glimpse of the kind of world the wild west was. Large expanses of desert in between towns and cities are host to an entirely autonomous ecosystem with more types of animals than most games have characters.
It’s easy to tell that Rockstar spared very little from their latest free-roam epic, not only due to the host of animals and ecosystem, but the sheer volume of things to do in this game. You can hunt any of the thirty-six types of animal in the game and skin them to earn pelts, meat, claws, feathers & skins. From armadillos and snakes to bears and cougars, there are all kinds of animals for you to hunt and to earn loads of money from. The more dangerous the animal, the more money you’re given for selling their pelts and meats to store owners.
You can’t truly hunt animals without the proper weaponry, though, and there’s no disappointment there either. You have a veritable armory at your disposal, consisting of pistols, rifles, sniper rifles, shotguns, thrown weapons, a hunting knife, your fists, and for the first time in video games, a working lasso. There’s plenty of time to get good with it, because if it moves, you can rope it. And rope it, you will.
In true Rockstar form, there’s almost never a time where you don’t have options. While the story is linear, you still have the ability to take some missions out of order. A lot of the time, you’ll be dropped into the thick of a crime while on your way to start a mission. And make no mistakes, the crimes in this game are plentiful.
With so much to do, it’d be a shame if the controls were lacking. Luckily, the controls are very easy to get used to; especially if you’ve played a GTA title. Red Dead comes with a bullet time-esque mode called “Dead Eye” that slows the game down and allows you to target as many enemies as you can, wherever you want to target them, then take them all out at once.
Duels work using Dead Eye as well. When you’re told to draw, adjust your aim and mark as many spots as you can on your enemy. Whoever marks the most vital parts the fastest wins. If it’s you, you get to watch a satisfying animation of laying your opponent out in slow motion.
Cars were very rare in the west so your primary means of transport is by horse, and Rockstar went all out in creating the best horses seen in video games to date. Not just the mechanics, while they are the best I’ve seen, they also have a breed selection that borders on insane. They took horses as seriously as they did the cars in the [blippr]GTA[/blippr] series and show it by having twenty breeds of horse in Red Dead. Each breed has different stats for speed as well as stamina.
The host of characters is quite impressive as well. There’s the swindling “tonic” salesman, the power drunk revolutionary, ruthless general, & the warrior woman, each with their own story line.
If this doesn’t seem thorough enough, Rockstar has created a host of challenges and multiplayer modes. With up to sixteen players, you can branch off into your own ‘posse’ to complete objective-based game modes, which Rockstar doesn’t slack on either. Between “Capture the bag” modes, titles, ranks and even challenges that you can check via Rockstar’s Social Club website, there is no lack of things to do in online multiplayer.
There aren’t many good video games based on westerns, but the latest Rockstar masterpiece has broken that mold and created a new standard for games based in the wild west. If anyone wants to follow in their footsteps, they’ve got some pretty huge shoes to fill, as Red Dead Redemption is one of the best games I’ve ever had the privilege to play.